Brutal fighting in South Sudan has reopened deep-rooted ethnic divisions, forcing tens of thousands of terrified residents to seek shelter at UN bases or flee in fear of attacks.
"I am afraid," said Susan Nakiden, who still has bitter memories of the more two decades of civil war that paved the way to the young nation's independence two years ago, when when she was forced to flee her home.
"I just can't imagine being forced to become refugees again," said the mother of three, shocked by a week of violence that has already claimed hundreds of lives.
United Nations peacekeepers are currently sheltering over 35,000 civilians in various bases across the country, many belonging to the minority ethnic group in their respective areas.
South Sudanese are made up of over 60 different tribes, with the Dinka and then the Nuer the two main groups, although both of those groups are themselves split into several branches.
President Salva Kiir -- from the majority Dinka people -- has accused his former deputy Riek Machar -- from the Nuer tribe, of launching a failed coup bid, claims Machar has denied.
Human Rights Watch says that witnesses report South Sudanese soldiers and rebels have executed people based on their ethnicity.
"Soldiers in Juba sometimes asked individuals about their ethnicity before killing or releasing them, or identified them from facial scarification," HRW said quoting witnesses.
Many South Sudanese traditionally wear tribal scarring on their faces and bodies.
One woman in Juba told HRW she saw armed men from both Dinka and Nuer tribes "moving from house to house apparently searching for members of the other ethnic group".
In one of several cases listed, another man described how soldiers executed seven Nuer men hiding in a compound in Juba's western Gudele district, describing how one had "hid in a water barrel and was killed in there."
"All of us experienced the war with Khartoum," Nakiden said. "People died, got displaced and suffered... If it comes to the worst we will see where to run to."
"We just pray God really listens to our prayers."
'This must be defused urgently'
Religious leaders this week warned the "political problem" between leaders "should not be turned into an ethnic problem".
"Sadly, on the ground it is developing into tribalism, this must be defused urgently before it spreads," said a statement broadcast on radio and signed by six Christian leaders, including Episcopalian Archbishop Daniel Deng and his Roman Catholic counterpart Archbishop Paulino Lukudu.
"The way this incident is handled will have an effect on the future of our nation, whether positive or negative, both internally and in terms of international relations," it added.
Six days into the battles between the rival camps, at least 500 people have been killed in the capital Juba alone.
"Whether they are Nuers or Dinkas, the suffering is for all, the future is not certain," said John Luga, from Central Equatoria State. "Let the president just allow democracy to prevail."
Bus stations in Juba were packed as people crammed onto whatever transport they could find to leave the capital, which though now largely calm, is rife with fears of fresh attacks.
Sokiri Samuel, a primary school teacher, was waiting to cram into a packed bus heading to his home town of Kajokeeji, some 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Juba near the Uganda border.
"It is not a normal situation... one problem is that for some government officials, their hearts are divided, some are for the government but others are for Riek (Machar)," Samuel said.
"The only way for us is for leaders to really accept dialogue... rebellions don't always end quickly."
Oil-rich but grossly impoverished and awash with guns from the decades of war that led to its independence in July 2011, South Sudan remains rife with internal divisions.
"Ethnic tensions between Nuer and Dinka have been badly exacerbated," said Eric Reeves, a Sudan scholar at Smith College in Massachusetts.
"The events of the past few days have been an immense shock to the political system in South Sudan, and pose deep and likely ongoing threats."